Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mind the Details

  1. She just knew she wanted him to touch her.
  2. He never knew what hit him.
  3. They had no idea why they were getting in that car.
  4. He had no idea what was coming.
  5. For some reason she just knew she had picked the right direction this time.
  6. For some reason, he liked what he saw.
  7. For some reason, no one believed her.
Have you ever read phrases like these? Have you ever said to yourself, 'Of course he or she had to know, but what clues did they have?' 'Of course they had a reason to get in that car, why would you get into a car for absolutely no reason?' 'And if if he had no idea what was coming, then were his eyes closed? Was he unconscious?' 'Of course there was a reason to go that direction, or to like what he saw, or to believe her.'

Every moment we are flooded with assorted input, and at any given moment we are reacting or making decisions based on that input. To be a good writer, you need to be able to break down that input in order to make actions and reactions believable, rather than your character's actions just coming out of the clear blue sky.

Are these better? Maybe - maybe not.
  1. Her skin tingled with waves of goosebumps as his imaginary hands caressed her body. (and I don't write romance)
  2. (The blow was completely unexpected) The blow took him totally by surprised, giving him no chance to even attempt blocking it.
  3. (The choices of why they got in the car are many and varied; here's one) They were bored stiff and the sun was shining; it was a good day for a drive.
  4. He hadn't planned beyond this point, and he was apprehensive about opening the door, but there was nothing for it; one simply must put one foot in front of the other, come what may.
  5. She had already explored every other route she could find. Despite the fact that it seemed inhospitable, it didn't look like there was any other way.
  6. When she walked into the room, suddenly he found it hard to breathe, and his mouth turned up in a grin of its own volition.
  7. (There had to be some reason why they wouldn't believe her. Either it was what she was saying or her delivery) She rattled off her tale and then rolled her eyes in exasperation when everyone just looked at her. She gave an exaggerated sigh and flounced out of the room.
So, as you walk your character through your story, remember the little details. I'm not talking about big flowery paragraphs about what is happening at any given moment. Most of the time, it's only the occasional word or two. Sometimes it's something as simple as seeing all the steps.

Take a fight. During a fight adrenaline is pumping and your perception of events slows down. It's okay to conduct your fight one step at a time - blow by blow - insult by insult - act by reaction.

Remember the details. They are all important to the life of your story. Without them, your story just might not be able to take it's first breath.


William Kendall said...

Your improvements work wonders on the first set.

Anna L. Walls said...

I kinda like that one too ;)